PASSENGERS on Northern trains now face on-the-spot fines if they have not bought a ticket before boarding.

The company brought in changes yesterday which will see a team of inspectors patrol stations on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines between Bradford Forster Square, Leeds, Ilkley and Skipton.

Ticketless travellers could get a £20 penalty fare as Northern tries to crack down on fare-dodgers.

But Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said there was a risk of passengers being made to feel like criminals. He said: “People who want to and are aiming to pay for a ticket should not be fined.”

He said Northern, as what he called a “monopoly provider”, was behaving in an “unacceptable manner” towards law-abiding people.

He said: “Northern need lessons in customer service. They should restrict themselves to penalising people trying to leave a station having not paid and having not attempted to pay. There are a number of reasons why people may not have a ticket in advance – ticket machines not working, long queues at machines or ticket counters – and those people should not be made to feel like criminals and go through the bureaucracy of appealing against fines.

“I have made clear to Northern if there is just one example of a customer who seeks to pay for a ticket being fined I will do everything I can to see Northern lose this franchise.”

A spokesman for Northern said it was too early to say how many penalty fares had been issued because of the scheme but that new ticket machines had been installed at all stations on the line.

He added that the decision to issue a traveller with a fine will depend on individual circumstances and an appeal process is in place.

Several passengers arriving at Bradford Forster Square yesterday said they did not even know about the fines.

Chloe Burkinshaw from Shipley said: “It’s shocking. I didn’t know about it before today, it’s not been publicised enough.

“I think it’s going to catch me out, especially if I’m running late for my train.”

Lara Aleda, who commutes to Bradford, said: “I don’t think people have been given enough notice, especially people who don’t use the train every day. I only found out because a conductor told me.

“It’s not really going to catch the people who are really dodging fares. It’s a waste of paper.

“It means you’re either going to get fined or you’re going to miss your train.”

Customers paying by cash will need to get a Promise to Pay notice from the ticket machine before getting the train to show the conductor.

Northern said previously that it was introducing the system because reducing the number of people who travel without a ticket is in the interests of customers who pay their fares.